Social Development Commission (SDC) Executive Director, Dr. Dwayne Vernon, says a 79 per cent increase in the agency’s operating budget over the last four years has enabled the entity to strengthen engagement with communities across the island.
“We are looking at $730 million in 2016 to now $1.2 billion in 2020/2021. We are now seeing a 79 per cent increase in the functional budget that comes to the SDC,” he noted.
Dr. Vernon was speaking at a digital town hall hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development on July 30, where he shared some of the agency’s accomplishments since 2016.
He informed, further, that over the period, the agency saw a 236 per cent increase in grants and contributions from just over $20 million to more than $67 million, “which has enabled us to do more work on our programmes”.
“Between 2016 and 2020, we have received $175 million in terms of programme spending, and we are now giving grants to communities.
Since 2016, we have already given $140 million in terms of grants to communities,” he noted.
Other areas positively impacted by the increase in budget are that of compensation for employees and travel and subsistence for SDC officers who visit communities for engagement.
“If we look at the area of compensation, we have seen a 57 per cent increase (from $464 million to $727 million) and that has caused us to increase our staff complement by 80, which is 31 per cent, so we now have 335 persons employed compared to 255 in 2016. In terms of travel and subsistence, there was a 94 per cent increase (from $108 million to $210 million),” Dr. Vernon said.
With the increased staff complement, the SDC has been able to strengthen the Parish Development Committees with an accountability framework put in place that allows for a standard way to access funding and report on the use of the taxpayer dollar.
The agency has also increased production of community profiles and maps from 685 to 697, and improved community coverage through the Community Development Committees (CDC) from 491 to 594.
In addition, a Registrar Department has been established, which allows for conferment of legal status on community groups under the Local Governance Act, 2016.